MANILA, Philippines – With drug-related summary executions and extra judicial killings still on the rise, Senator Antonio Trillanes, a staunch critic of President Duterte during the campaign period, has come out to say that illegal drugs is not the top problem hounding the country right now.
“The terrorist attack in Davao is a grim reminder that the illegal drug problem is not the biggest and definitely not the only national security threat to our country.” Trillanes said.
“The declaration of state of lawlessness is not warranted at this time. What is needed is less big talking and more serious Intel work,” the senator said, referring to the importance of paying heed to intelligence information involving national security.
The senator made the statement as Vice-Mayor Paolo Duterte admitted that he received a tip two days prior to the Friday night Roxas Market attack in Davao City, indicating that the attack would happen to General Santos City or Davao. Duterte admitted that he kept quiet about it to avoid criticism.
Two other blasts happened in South and North Cotabato on Saturday after the Davao City bombing. The first targeted the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) tower in Carmen, North Cotabato while the second involved the house of Polomolok Vice Mayor Elias Jovero and his family. No one was hurt but the ceiling and glass windows of the house were damaged.
Meanwhile, Lt. Col. Michael Logico, deputy senior military assistant to the Secretary of National Defense at Department of National Defense, feels that the declaration of a state of lawlessness is warranted, but nevertheless agrees that the drug problem in the country is not the top problem facing the nation right now.
Logico feels that terrorism is a bigger concern, even as the Abu Sayyaf Group, the primary suspects for the blasts, have simultaneously admitted and denied that they were behind the Davao bombing.
On Saturday, after reports surfaced that the notorious ASG group has admitted a hand behind the Roxas Night Market bombing that killed 14 people including a pregnant woman and minors, a second statement was released denying ASG involvement.
But Muammar Askali alias Abu Ramie, the self-styled spokesperson of the Al Harakatul Al Islamiya, the Abu Sayyaf’s official name, told the Inquirer that an allied organization, the Daulat Ul Islamiya, was behind the Davao blast.
“They are doing this to sympathize (with) our group and we are sending a message to President Rodrigo Duterte that all the Daulat throughout the country is not afraid of him,” Askali said. Askali has said that theh bomb attack was in retaliation for military action against Islamic extremists in Sulu.
Earlier, the ASG has pledged allegiance to the terror group ISIS which has been lately suffering setbacks from Syrian and allied forces in the Middle East.